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4th Circuit allows religious school to make employment decisions aligned with beliefs

The donations made as a result of this Supreme Court victory have also helped make high-quality private schools a reality for lower-income families

The following quote may be attributed to Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel and Vice President for Appellate Advocacy John Bursch regarding a unanimous decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit Wednesday in Billard v. Charlotte Catholic High School, in which a Catholic high school was challenged by a former employee who entered into a relationship that conflicted with the school’s religious beliefs about marriage and sexuality. ADF attorneys filed a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of religious employers who wish to make hiring decisions without fear of government intervention:

“Religious schools should be allowed to employ teachers and administrators who share the same goals, views, and values that adhere to their religion, and the 4th Circuit’s decision upholds that fundamental freedom. The court rightly recognized that the ability of religious schools to make employment decisions based on their beliefs is ‘grounded…in constitutional structure’ and that religious employers should be free to operate without fear of punishment by government officials or courts.”

In its decision, the 4th Circuit wrote: “Our court has recognized before that seemingly secular tasks like the teaching of English and drama may be so imbued with religious significance that they implicate the ministerial exception…we think the principle carries through: The ministerial exception protects religious institutions in their dealings with individuals who perform tasks so central to their religious missions – even if the tasks themselves do not advertise their religious nature.”

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization committed to protecting religious freedom, free speech, parental rights, and the sanctity of life.

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John Bursch
John Bursch
Senior Counsel, Vice President of Appellate Advocacy
John Bursch is senior counsel and vice president of appellate advocacy with Alliance Defending Freedom.